From Zero to DApp: How to Build a Career in the Cardano Ecosystem | Developer Diary #1

The Why, the What and the How of going from Zero to Cardano Dev in 12 months or less.

From Hype to Dedication

I still remember the day in late 2017 when I, an impressionable and naive 18-year-old, was seated in the dimly lit Cafeteria of the Guernsey Grammar School sixth form, surrounded by the chatter of my peers. I was absentmindedly munching away on my greasy sausage roll, lost in my own thoughts when I happened to open the Binance App I had installed the day before on a whim. My eyes lit up with scintillating excitement and intrigue. The £300 I had thrown haphazardly into LISK of the back of a friend’s comment had turned into over £600. From that day, I was hooked, spending most of my waking hours fixated on my screen, attempting to digest every morsel of information I could on this new thing called ‘the Blockchain’. And I would go on, as many people did, to turn my small investment into the most money I had ever seen in a bank account. To then quite rightly lose it all on the subsequent crash, I had no business having that amount of money from making a few dumb clicks and needed to learn the harsh lesson of becoming enraptured by the intoxicating heights of achievement. Especially one that I really did not deserve.

However, monetary gain aside, this brief encounter with glory piqued my interest and set me down the path to where I am today. Cardano, the chain we all know and love, was first unleashed onto the market in September of that year. And even though my adolescent dopamine-seeking hype-chasing ape brain was all over the shiny, flashy coins of the day, I still remember thinking, “wow, they have really thought this one through”. And this realisation stayed with me and deepened over the years as I slowly began to follow the project more and more.

Bringing us to the present, where Cardano consumes the very essence of my being, every waking moment devoured by thoughts of a decentralised future, where the possibilities are endless, and the horizon shines with the radiant light of hope. 

Ok, a little dramatic, but I wanted to make a point; maybe my ape brain has evolved, or this is simply the process of growing up, but I really only see one major contender for a layer one blockchain to build the next global financial operating system, and that’s Cardano. Gone are the days when I prioritised hype and promises over the more boring but critical aspects of peer-reviewed research and just plain good engineering. 

And driven by this passion for Cardano, I am dedicating an ever-increasing amount of my time and resources to nurturing and supporting this ecosystem in the hopes of helping it reach its full potential.

Who am I

Hey, I’m Mike, and I kinda lied in the intro already. I’m not really starting from 0 per se as I currently work as a Software Engineer in Data and analytics, mainly with Python and R. However, I do say 0 as I have practically no skills in most or any of the languages needed to begin developing DApps on Cardano. And don’t be disheartened if you are starting with no programming experience; I will include all the resources necessary for you too.

I have been following Cardano since 2017, and it has been one of my biggest bags to date. Yet I came upon a realisation sometime last August. As I learnt more and more about the protocol, my thesis on the future of smart contract platforms began to solidify, with Cardano taking a solid lead in the space. I cannot just invest!

If I am correct in my prediction, I will miss out on the most significant wealth-creation opportunity in my life. If Cardano becomes the number one blockchain and smart contracts build a new financial system in the future, then investing just isn’t enough.

Why Investing isn’t enough

Ok, sure, if you have a few million, or even a few $100k, then placing that into Cardano now and waiting ten years will make you very rich. Let’s take a conservative estimate of a $1T market cap by 2030, which puts the price of ADA at a measly $28. Now, if you invest, say, $100k today at a price of $0.35, by 2030, you would have around $8M. Not a bad return, right?

But if you do the math, that’s an 83x from where we are now. Which means roughly 83x:

  • The investment
  • The news time
  • The user base

Do you see where I’m getting at?

If Cardano does and 83x, then where do you think the core winning DApps in their sectors will be (Defi, RelFI, NFT, etc..), 1000x,5000x,10,000x?

In my opinion, this is one of the best chances for someone with little to no skills or capital to build a business and have it scale to $100m-$1b Plus in the next ten years.

And that’s just the monetary incentive for working on Cardano, without mentioning the others, such as decentralisation, security and the chance to build a better and fairer financial system


It’s not enough to just invest; I have to work in this space full-time!

How am I transitioning, and you could too.

So if you have no risk tolerance threshold, then you could just quit your job and dive straight into this space. And while this is the fastest route to making money in the space and learning all the skills, I would not recommend it, primarily due to the state of the crypto space in this bear market, meaning a great lack of funding and the time it takes to become proficient enough to get paid.

A safer and more sustainable approach is to begin slowly transitioning in.

What do I mean by this?

  • Find a Skill that you currently have (programming, writing, video editing, marketing)
  • Begin learning the basics of Cardano and engage with the community. You can read my articles here on Adapulse, which cover all the essential topics.
  • Begin thinking about where you can apply your skill in this space.
  • Start providing free value with your skill to the community(Articles, Video Content, Opensource Tooling)
  • Do this in your spare time for a few months, building up a portfolio of work.
  • Most likely, if your work is good enough, somebody will reach out and begin paying you, and if not, then you need to do a bit of basic job hunting using your work portfolio and the connections you have made in the community.
  • Once you start getting paid, it’s up to you when you feel financially safe to go full-time into the space.

So that’s the basic outline; let me give you an example which is what I have been doing.

Since I work full time, I don’t have much time to work on this and therefore didn’t go down the Developer route. Instead, as I learnt about Cardano, I began writing blog articles explaining all the concepts in a simple and easy-to-read manner and creating digestible short-form Twitter threads to interact with the community.

Within 2 Months, I was approached by Adapulse to write articles for them. And from there have also begun a Podcast series which I will plan to grow to the biggest in the space by the end of the year. Go check out on the Adapulse Youtube.

Why Cardano Dev Diaries

Now that I am getting a proportion of my income from the space, I can spend a more significant proportion of my time here. Therefore am moving on to the next steps of my plan, which are to:

A) Build my own DApp


B) Get paid to build DApps

and hence need to learn how to develop on Cardano, which, as I have found out, is much harder than it sounds.

If you’re getting started or thinking about it, It can be really confusing. Where to start, what language to learn, should I learn smart contract development or start with the backend are all questions that went through my head.

The purpose of this Series is to document my learning journey, bringing you all the tips and tricks and hopefully setting out a roadmap for you to follow. Along with all the stupid mistakes I make along the way, so you don’t have to.

Alongside this, I will bring on multiple developers to my podcast to discuss everything technical about Cardano, which I will be summarising in these posts.

Check out my first two, one with Aiken and the other with TxPipe

Funny Programmer Programming Code Works Why Meme" Postcard for Sale by  MadsJakobsen | Redbubble

The Schedule and Current progress

I plan to release these episodes every two weeks or shorter, depending on the amount of content I have.

These past Two weeks since coming up with the blog idea, I have been working on learning front-end Dev with React and Next.js and have started building my own site, which you can find here.

In the next post, I will be going into more depth about the roadmap and what the plan is going to be.

Coming Up

  • Breakdown of the Podcast interviews
  • Broad Roadmap of the Learning Journey
  • More details of the Code that I am writing

Thanks for reading; I know this is a very wordy first blog post, but I felt the need to explain the background. In future blogs, we will be going more technical.

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